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Murals memorialize a rural Utah town’s past and present
TREMONTON CITY, Utah — A rural town in northern Utah calls itself the “City of Murals,” partly due to a 1970s vigilante artist who painted western landscapes on abandoned buildings.
These days, local artist Jason Nessen has taken up the helm – with city approval, of course.
Since his first work in 2003, Nessen has painted more than a dozen murals around Tremonton City. Each piece is a tribute to the town’s history and community. A local favorite is a mural that depicts the 1920s Tremonton City volunteer fire department. Commissioned in 2015, this mural shows one of Tremonton City’s first volunteer firefighters resting on one of the city’s first fire trucks. It’s a salute to those who keep the town safe, honoring past and present generations.
“We’re creating a legacy,” Nessen said of his art. “This gives something to the community.” His sepia-toned mural of the Golden Spike Rodeo memorializes the day farmers, ranchers, and townspeople gathered their cars in a circle to watch the county’s first rodeo – a friendly competition that’s become a lasting tradition. By referencing historic photos or old postcards, Nessen paints his murals freehand using scaffolding and house paint. On average, each mural takes about 120 hours to complete.
“Our murals are what make us unique, especially to Utah,” Tremonton Arts Council representative Zach LeFevre said. The size of a community doesn’t limit the potential to generate them, and Nessen continues to paint with his own artistic flair. If you’re a local resident, don’t be surprised if your face ends up hidden among those of the past.
PBS Utah airs award-winning, locally produced documentaries and series. PBS Utah’s weekly show, This Is Utah, celebrates the diverse people and communities that call Utah home.
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